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By Alan L. Chrisman
George Harrison passed away on Nov. 29, 2001. This is a tribute to his music and
my personal memories of him. George was always the third Beatle. The order
was John, Paul, George, and Ringo. George and Ringo always had to compete
with the considerable talents (and egos) of Lennon and McCartney. He was also
called the Quiet Beatle (although people who knew him said he wasnt always so
quiet, especially about his later religion). He also became known as the spiritual
Beatle. Paul had introduced his young guitar-playing friend, George, to John and

he became part of Johns teenaged band, The Quarrymen.

George was the youngest Beatle, three years younger than John, and John still
always saw him like almost a younger brother. John and Paul got most all the
songs on early Beatles albums, but without Georges always tasteful and fitting
guitar leads their songs, wouldnt have been the same. His first composition
finally shows up on their 2nd album (with a typical George statement, Dont
Bother Me.) He gradually gets more song writing space on succeeding albums.
It is not only with his growingly confident song writing, but he also begins to
influence the kind of music they will make. Through his friendship with Dylan
and The Band, he helps move them towards folk-rock on Rubber Soul ( Think For
Yourself) and eastern music and instruments on Johns Norwegian Wood, and
on Revolver (Love You Too, I Want To Tell You as well as Taxman) and on
Sgt. Peppers his Within and Without You.
But it isnt until The White Album in 1968 that he becomes noticed with the songs,
While My Guitar Gently Weeps, Piggies , Long Long Long and Savoy
Truffle. Then on Abbey Road, for the first time, its not a Lennon/McCartney
double-sided single, but his magnificent Something and Here Comes the Sun ,
which stand out with Lennons Come Together and they become hits. Now
Lennon and McCartney and the world can no longer ignore his song-writing
prowess. But its too late, George is anxious to go out on his own, out of the
shadow of his bandmates and The Beatles break up. Everyone thought John and

Paul would be the most likely to survive. But in 1971, George releases his 3Lp set
All Things Must Pass and it outsells his mentors, especially with his religious/pop
smash, My Sweet Lord and the rockin, What is Life. But the album contains
many more great songs too.
Hes also produced several Beatles Apple record label artists like Billy Preston,
Badfinger, Doris Troy, Jackie Lomax, etc. He also co-wrote, Badge, for the band
Cream with his good friend, Eric Clapton, and you can hear Georges very
distinctive guitar-sound on it. He had become by this time, a quite accomplished
slide-player as well. In 1971, George organizes The Concert for Bangladesh for his
friend, Ravi Shankar with superstars, Dylan, Clapton, Leon Russell, etc., the first
real rock charity event, which all future ones will try to emulate. The next year it is
released as a 3- album set.
In 1973, George records, what to me, is an equally quality album (a condensed
version of All Things Must Passs 3Lps perhaps), Living in the Material World with
its hits, Give Me Love, Give Me Peace and Sue me, Sue You Blues. He didnt
seem to miss The Beatles at all. Although, he was a guest on Johns Imagine,
especially the slide on Johns biting dig at Paul, How Do You Sleep and co-wrote
the great Photograph and produced the singles, Back off Boogaloo and It
Dont Come Easy for Ringo. He continued to release the solo albums, Dark Horse
and Extra Texture in 74 and 75. In 76, he recorded, what I think, is also one of
his best albums, 33 & 1/3, with Crackerbox Palace and his answer to being
accused of stealing the chords of My Sweet Lord from the Chiffons song, Hes
So fine- This Song.
He also became at this point, a film producer and produced with his new
Handmade Films for his comedy friends, Monty Python, their Life of Brian. In75
he does some songs for the soundtrack to their popular, Time Bandits. In 1978,
he joined his Monty Python friend, Eric Idle, in a very funny satire of his old band,
The Beatles, The Rutles, and even appears disguised in their film, All You Need Is
In 1979, he releases another quite solid album, simply called George Harrison with
the song, Not Guilty, leftover from his Beatles White Album days. But the

album also contains the great songs, Blow Away, Love Comes to Everyone (
with Clapton on guitar) and what I think is one of his most beautiful songs and
guitar work, Your Love is Forever. On his next album, Somewhere in England,
he includes his moving tribute song to John Lennon, All Those Years Ago (you
said it all when you said all you need is love, buy not many had ears). In 1980,
he wrote and released an autobiography (which barely mentioned The Beatles
or John Lennon, which Lennon said hurt him). In 1987, Harrison had another
excellent album, Cloud Nine, with the big hits, produced by ELOs Jeff Lynne, Got
My Mind Set On You( which he didnt write), but did the summing up of The
Beatles with, When We Was Fab.
In 1998, he again forms a oneoff superstar get-together band with Dylan, Jeff
Lynne, Tom Petty, and Roy Orbison, under the name the Traveling Wilburys and
they record two successful albums with hit songs. In 1995, he and the other two
surviving Beatles reworked two of Johns songs from his Dakota days, Free As A
Bird and Real Love, produced by Lynne, in conjunction with the massively
popular Beatles Anthology records and videos, which helped a whole new
generation to rediscover them


Above: FULL CIRCLE: Ringo, Paul & George get together to work on Johns songs for Beatles
Anthologies, 1995

In December 1999, a mentally-disturbed intruder broke into Harrisons home and

attacked him causing over 40 knife wounds. He recovered, but it, no doubt,
speeded up his health problems as he had been diagnosed with lung cancer the
year before and it returned. On Nov. 29, 2001, he passed away. Paul and Ringo
saw him shortly before his death. Paul said George didnt suffer fools gladly.
His ashes were released into Indias rivers, in accordance with his spiritual beliefs.
His last album the excellent, Brainwashed, was completed after his death, by his
son, Dhani and Jeff Lynne, in 2002.
So it was quite a life for a Liverpool lad who had admired rockabilllys Carl Perkins
and guitarist, Chet Atkins. He helped create those special Harrison guitar leads on
most of the Beatles songs and then became his own excellent songwriter as a
Beatle and later as a solo artist. Surprising many observers, who wondered if he
would be able to compete with his own renown once-band mates, he became
loved for his guitar playing and his own songs and respected for his spiritual
beliefs. George Harrison had finally come out from under The Beatles immense
shadow and created his own giant shadow.
I was fortunate to see Harrison perform in 1974 in Montreal. Billy Preston
opened the show (Ravi Shankar was supposed to appear, but had to cancel
because he was sick). I was in the cheap seats behind the stage and Harrison
turned around, so we could see him too. We actually got a closer-up look than the
more expensive section. He wouldnt play any of the other Beatles songs, except
he did Lennons In My Life. His guitar playing on While My Guitar Gently
Weeps was, I remember, better than Claptons version on the White Album. Ive
thought Harrison was always underrated as a guitar player, especially his slideguitar work.
Another Harrison story is, his sister, Louise, was a guest at our 2nd Ottawa
Beatles Convention I organized. There Louise told a little-known story about how
when she was living in a small Illinois town (not far from where my parents live),
George came to visit her there. The Beatles were still unknown in America,
George was coaxed to get up and jam with a local band one night. One of the
band members told George, Youre not bad, if you keep practicing, you might

get somewhere. This was only a few months before The Beatles would appear
on the Ed Sullivan Show the next Feb, 1964 and everyone would know them!
When George passed away, I got a call from The Liverpool Echo (I dont know
how they got my record store in Canadas phone number ). They wanted to know
what my reaction was to his death. I said he was the most spiritual Beatle and
people loved him for that and his songs and playing. I was also interviewed by the
local media, and was sad, like with Johns too early death.

Above: George Harrison passes, Nov. 29, 2001 and Liverpool Echo newspaper and local media
call Alan Chrisman for his reaction

See one of Georges most beautiful songs and playing, Your Love Is Forever:

Watch Tribute video to both George and John, with Georges, All Those Years